Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Human Quena Orchestra - The Politics Of The Irredeemable

Crucial Blast, 2009

Superheavy brutal drone/noise of the pseudo-doom electronics + feedback variety (think more Goslings/Nadja/Burmese than pro-bono doom-drone acts). Kind of sounds like Alan Dubin (Khanate) performing over Ax or freakout-mode oldschool Skullflower on Tibetan quaaludes. Serious overtone magic going on here.


Popol Vuh - Letze Tage - Letze Nächte

United Artists, 1976

I had originally thought the good Popol Vuh discography ended with what I had explored: Affenstunde, In Den Gärten Pharaos, Hosianna Mantra, Einsjäger & Siebejäger, Aguirre, and the Nosferatu soundtrack. Little did I know there were a couple of other gems interspersed there, Das Hoheleid Salamos, their "non-official" album of Indian Classical music appropriately titled Yoga, and this. Definitely one of their essential albums, really part of their peak material while they were still working with Djong Yun and creating spiritual, orchestral, pastoral rock music. Letze Tage - Letze Nächte is heavier on the sheer rock vibe, the sound here is closer to their soundtrack to Fitzcarraldo, the usual spiritual raga/modal ascents and descents molded into epic sturm & drang. Uplifting and energizing.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hypnagogic Video Zone




A Portrait Of Eliane Radigue

A Portrait of Eliane Radigue (2009) from Maxime Guitton on Vimeo.

via Root Blog

Arcana Coelestia - Le Mirage De L'Idéal

ATMF, 2009

Melodic doom metal is not a genre that has ever bespoke of good taste to me, so I approach the sound of an album like this with a fair bit of trepidation, a blackened funeral doom (or more precisely doom'd black metal) from the distinctly Italian strain of underground black metal, which from my exposure (to Absentia Lunae and Melancolia Estatica) takes a wee bit of a "gothic and melodic metal can be ok" attitude. However this album doesn't veer over the edge into what I consider cheesy about these genres, the closest it gets is with some clean sung vocals, which as they turn out are not totally unnecessary and at least don't get in the way. The same kind of psychedelic cavernous reverb that soaks the best work of Elysian Blaze, seemingly inspired by Lycia, is found here. What helps matters even further is that the band certainly takes its influences from the right places, strains of symbolist and decadent art, writing, and mysticism from the late 19th century. The band itself is named after a text (meaning, vaguely, Celestial Secrets) of Christian mystic Emmanuel Swedenborg, but more specifically the name is inspired by bleak Swedish poet August Strindberg's tormented visions related to the work in works like his Inferno. Beyond this, the cover art is of Leda & the Swan from what I am almost positive is a Gustave Moreau (by far one of my favorite artists ever) painting, and the band has submitted other symbolist works as band images. Eerily holy and temptestuous music of the internal life.


Alethes - Aletheia

Glass Throat, 2006

I had heard this album a year back and couldn't get into, probably because of what seemed at the time like unapproachable mopey lyrics, turns out that's a small stumbling block because as this album progresses it gets much better than I remember, with great string accompaniment, songs bookended by quality dark ambience, and everything driven along the fogged and drenched Cascadian forest hills by Markus Wolff's (Waldteufel) peak percussion. An excellent album of dark pagan folk from the consistently great Glass Throat Recordings.


Jacaszek - Treny

Miasmah, 2008

Another addition to the list of successful, beautiful electro-acoustic approaches to the Divine that I have come to love at my core, with no genre-investigating strings attached, along with Xela's The Divine and Akira Rabelais' seminal Spellewauerynsherde. Baroque chamber surrealism, the sound is somewhat like a less splintered Fjordne if he had just lost a loved one, or a version of Miasmah labelmates Elegi with microbeats and Hildegard Von Bingen chorales over it. After the second track I was sold, I consider this one of the most beautiful albums of the past couple years, and cannot wait to hear his experiment in field recording of Gothic cathedrals in 2009's Pentral.


p.s. wondering what the word Treny meant in Polish, a quick wiki brought up that the term means Laments, they were threnodies (verses of mourning), written to a lost daughter by renaissance poet, Jan Kochanowski (essentially the Polish Shakespeare):

Lament 1

All Heraclitus' tears, all threnodies
And plaintive dirges of Simonides,
All keens and slow airs in the world, all griefs,
Wrung hands, wet eyes, laments and epitaphs,
All, all assemble, come from every quarter,
Help me to mourn my small girl, my dear daughter,
Whom cruel Death tore up with such wild force
Out of my life, it left me no recourse.
So the snake, when he finds a hidden nest
Of fledgling nightingales, rears and strikes fast
Repeatedly, while the poor mother bird
Tries to distract him with a fierce, absurd
Fluttering — but in vain! the venomous tongue
Darts, and she must retreat on ruffled wing.
"You weep in vain," my friends will say. But then,
What is not in vain, by God, in lives of men?
All is in vain! We play at blindman's buff
Until hard edges break into our path.
Man's life is error. Where, then, is relief?
In shedding tears or wrestling down my grief?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Min Kniv - Av Aske

Fossbrenna Creations, 2007

Short tape of True Nidarosian Black Metal (that's from Trondheim for those out of the know) that is as much atmospheric as it is raw, straightforward and uncompromising in the vein of Bone Awl/ Furdidurke. Specifically reminds of raw+atmospheric pros such as Arizmenda, Belketre or peak Darkthrone. Only a bit more primitive. Small'un but a good'un.


Panopticon - Collapse

Pagan Flames/ Lundr, 2009

It's good to hear more pro-green anarchy/ semi-primitivist/ pagan anarchist black metal that isn't in the blackened crust realm (bands like Iskra, Hotbild, etc. have a time and place for me, but the sound can get boring fast). What we have here is something more in the vein of post-rock influenced progressive Cascadian Black Metal such as Wolves In The Throne Room. The album begins with choice tv-news samples of the mid-2008 nigh-apocalypse (or at least it seemed that way, it really was just America getting poked economically into going "maybe we're not masters of the universe"). They remind me of the equally apocalyptic start to Godspeed You! Black Emperor's F♯ A♯ ∞ (a reference point for many bands like this). The song then progresses into pro atmospheric black metal licks before about 5 minutes out, where the electric guitars flicker out, a sample of a match being lit plays, and the the song finishes out with a fucking great cascade of folk guitar, which has much more to do with bluegrass than is the eurocentric norm with folk-metal hybrids (the artist afterall is from Kentucky). I chuckled at such an ingenious anti-technological gesture, and the well-needed acknowledgment of the irony of creating pseudo-primitivist music with electric instruments. The rest of the album follows suite, with natural ambience and depressive folk/bluegrass sections interspersed with black metal bombast. A great new artist, this album and his splits with Lake Of Blood and Wheels Within Wheels are not to be missed.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Joy Of Nature - The Empty Circle Part II - Rastos De Sangue E Fragmentos Da Tradição

Ahnstern, 2009

Portuguese neofolk in the same thematic vein as Sangre Cavallum, only with more of a focus on the culture of the mysterious mid-Atlantic islands of the Azores. Professional in instrumentation and composition, with a healthy does of atmospheric sonics and samples. My understanding of Portuguese is nil but this is generally of a less martial feel than other neofolk, more of a solo personal approach, as well as a bit more focused on themes of Christianization than is the norm. The album is not overly conceptual and is filled with many moments of purely beautiful classically-informed music.


The Elemental Chrysalis - The Calocybe Collection

Glass Throat Recordings, 2005

Homespun Cascadian ambience and folk guitar from lost forest hermits Chet W. Scott (Ruhr Hunter) and James Woodhead (At The Head Of The Woods) of the Glass Throat Recordings set (the aforementioned along with Alethes, Fearthainne, etc.). The quality of the guitar work is high here, sometimes covering the same mood and sound as peak Loren Connors. The drones are evocative of vertical forest spirit invocations, especially on the track "Caravan Of Ghosts" whose multitracked madrigals and throat singing sounds kind of like what a duo between Xela and Soriah might sound like. Great example from a quality collective of eco-focused doom folkers.


In Gowan Ring - Love Charms

World Serpent, 1999

Supremely underrated folk group of one lovelorn lutier B'Eirth. Commonly lumped in with "neofolk" artists and while at least sharing the antiquarianism of the movement (and some its members and collaborators such as Annabel Lee and Michael Moynihan), In Gowan Ring truly works an entirely different magick. Medieval and psychedelic, as much as the ancient past as the stars, elder songs soaked in resonant tones interspersed with freely improvised fife, drone, and chimes. Some of this even sounds like the classic Six Organs Of Admittance albums of the era (especially Dark Noontide), but with an entirely different, poetic troubadour approach to lyrics and songwriting. Not to be missed.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Daemonia Nymphe - Krataia Asterope/ Δαιμόνια Νύμφη - Kραταια Aστεροπη

Prikosnovénie, 2007

Taking a break from my goofy black metal obsession, here is a very beautiful album from Greek pro-Ancient Gods neofolk group Daemonia Nymphe. Great to see a group, not unlike Portugal's Sangre Cavallum, who adapts the neopagan/ neofolk ethos to a culture which hasn't lost any of its legitimacy to Nazism. I had made a post on my tumblr last year about my truly mixed opinions of neofolk where I described a class of culture-loving, almost apolitical groups that included Waldteufel, Sangre Cavallum, and Sturmpercht. I would of course add Wardruna to this list, and Daemonia Nymphe as well. Hellenic in all its qualities: ethereal, genuine, strong, limber. Keyboards may be present, but new age cheesiness is kept to a minimum. Praised be Bacchus!


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Katharsis - VVorld VVithout End

Norma Evangelicum Diaboli, 2006

Still in stiff running for the best black metal album of all time in my book, though Darkthrone's Transilvanian Hunger is close. Totally chaotic demonic howlings from the dimension beyond the singularity drive in Event Horizon. Battlefield near-death screamings of a psyker. Ok enough lame scifi-horror references, this is like the solo at the end of Reign In Blood turned into an album. This album is intense, no song quite peaks like VVytchhunt. And fuck all the "war metal" and "chaotic black metal" out there, this shit is the real deal. Production is massively heavy, if there ever was a black metal band that needed high fidelity, this is the one.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Blue Sabbath Black Cheer - Crows Eat The Eyes From The Leviathan's Carcass

Release The Bats, 2009

Great band/terrible name qualms aside, this is gnarled wooden psychedelic power electronics for mental transdisfiguration. Inverted swamp cathedrals illuminated by foxfire from zombie skulls. Each track is a new mutant beast, a new doppelgänger of the noisefiend. It's no wonder they've collaborated with Irr.App.(Ext.), this is the analog beast-brain's reaction to surrealorganic disorientist electronics.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Arizmenda - Within The Vacuum Of Infinity...

Crepúsculo Negro, 2009

Continuing the black metal kick with something more in my usual esoteric direction. Band from the Black Twilight Circle set (Ashdautas, Volahn). Chaotic and psychedelic but not avant-black metal/black noise crazy chaotic (not talking Wormsblood or Dead Reptile Shrine here), the sound more lies somewhere between Katharsis and Darkspace, as quality as those bands but not derivative by any means. Long, exploratory tracks and cassette quality brings proper Satanik Kvltik Fogg® to the recording. Hails!


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Kreng - L'Autopsie Phénoménale De Dieu

Miasmah, 2009

Like the best moments of David Lynch films, where human relationships knot themselves so tightly in the subconscious that they unravel and we find ourselves weeping out of nothing, for hours on end in the darkness. Then some glint of the divine, no matter how small or alien to us, perhaps through the dance of dust particles in the air, glimmers into our minds through the sadness. And we come to life again.


BJ Nilsen - The Invisible City

Touch, 2010

I've held off on BJ Nilsen for a while because his aesthetic seemed a bit dry to me at first look, but this album has proved it otherwise for me. Subtle and composerly electro-acoustic music that manages the space between field recording and pure drone in such a professional manner that hasn't been seen too much since old, peak Stars of the Lid. While still Arctic/ North Atlantic in feel, this album turns its eyes towards the lonely yet populated cities, the silent and sleeping spaces of our glorious metal hives, deep in the hours before morning. Yet like Thomas Köner (to whom Nilsen I think is often best compared to) and his seminal work Nuuk (specifically its 2004 CD+DVD reissue on MillePlateauxMedia where it was urbanly-rethemed) the sound here is of isolated cities in winter, cities on the arctic fringe. Tromsø. Reykjavík. Nuuk itself. Ghostly and alien because of the unforgiving subzero temperatures out in the aurora-dusted permanent twilight, abandoned by the warm yet armored Germanic hearts of geothermally heated flats. Makes me long for Iceland and a warm cup of tea on the tundra plain.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Wardruna - Runaljod: Gap Var Ginnunga

Indie Recordings, 2009

A perhaps somewhat out-of-character discovery from a recent spanning out of tastes, a powerful Norse percussive/chant/folk ritual music group exploring the essence of the runes. Nowhere near as stilted or boring as the usual "neofolk"-ish fare, this is really quite excellent and professional music. Features Gaahl from Gorgoroth.

Make sure to read the artists' own description of the album/series' theme.


Lost In Hildurness - Mount A

12 Tónar, 2006

Older album by Hildur Guðnadóttir, released on Icelandic label 12 Tónar (whose excellent shop in Reykjavík offers you coffee even if you refuse, contains the best obscure music in the world, and lets you listen to everything on headphones, like the best record stores). As good as last year's Without Sinking, with a bit more diverse and sparkly instrumentation, less sturm and drang. Excellent and immersive.


Friday, January 8, 2010

The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation - Succubus

Ad Noiseam, 2009

I had heard of The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble through Coilhouse, which while a great outlet for alternative culture and arts, and while overall the always lovely Meredith Yayanos' (violist of Faun Fables) tastes are to be trusted, the blog overall isn't always the best place to look for recommendations that fit my esoteric music taste. So I backed off for a while, especially turned off by the involvement of Bong Ra (Jason Kohnen) whose solo work is second rate even for masturbatory ragga jungle. A connection to other vaguely associated "dark jazz" ensembles (the music gods Bohren Und Der Club Of Gore, Kammerflimmer Kollektief, etc.) made me think there may have been more going on than I had written off. Additionally a recent flip in tastes back towards the more technoid has brought the Ad Noiseam label back to my attention, especially with their recent Scorn dubstep releases (I'll post one of those soon, he's come back and conquered the genre he more or less helped to create. best stuff since Vex'd. really.) So I checked it out on a whim, and there's nothing fishy going on, I was totally impressed by their 2006 self-titled debut. A wonderful mix of improvised ambient soundscapes, jazz instrumentation, scattered and never excessive idm beats, a beautiful floating female voice. My interest was peaked, and reading the description of their alter-ego Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation as a more droney and more improvised group, I just had to check it out. And what I found was another lost 2009 gem, the press I usually read wouldn't even go near this label or musicians, but this is just plain fucking great dark, groove filled music. A new dark music which is sexual and deeply felt. A travel through the invisible night cities of the soul, rooms filled with flickering lamps and faceless businessmen staring at their glass of bourbon. The silhouettes of past women line the walls. They are carrying knives.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Elysian Blaze - Levitating The Carnal

Asphyxiate Recordings, 2006

Funereal metal from the lonely frost kingdoms at the boundaries of life and death. Vast cascades of winter despair and negative transcendent splendor.


Wrath Of The Weak - Persse

Luchtrat, 2009

Atmospheric black metal artist moves sidewards away from his traditional Velvet Cacoon blizzard-drum sound into more acid-drenched territory. Like newer Skullflower releases, and the second track might actually be a Beatles cover. Too short, but it rules.


Friday, January 1, 2010

Obligatory Massive Best of 2009 List

In NO particular order (though with comments about what really got me psyched this year):

Yoga - Megafauna (probably the best by far release of the year, if not the past couple years. so much fucking buried in this recording)
Skullflower - Vile Veil
James Ferraro - Genie Head Gas in the Tower of Dreams (Jester's Midnight Toys)
James Ferraro - Edward Flex Presents: Do You Believe In Hawaii?
James Ferraro - KFC City 3099: Pt. 1 - Toxic Spill
Velvet Cacoon - Atropine
Six Organs Of Admittance - Luminous Night (vastly better than Shelter From The Ash)
Sir Richard Bishop - The Freak of Araby (saw him live in Seattle, he burned my brain cells. my friend Laura commented "I thought what he was doing was impossible then I realized he's just a machine that does that." referring to his epic mode-travellings.)
Explorers - Bermuda Telepaths (most things Sam Meringue did this year were amazing)
Wingdings - Symbol of Infinity
Matrix Metals - Flamingo Breeze
Xela - The Divine
Xela/ Grouper - Split
Sean McCann - Phylum Sigh
Barn Owl - The Conjurer
Elm - Nemcatacoa
Evan Caminiti - Psychic Mud Shrine (everything Barn Owl related was revelatory)
Natural Snow Buildings - Shadow Kingdom
Myrmyr - The Amber Sea
Ben Frost - By The Throat
Burial & Four Tet - Moth/ Wolf Cub
Black To Comm - Alphabet 1968
Elegi - Varde
Svarte Greiner - Kappe
Yellow Tears - Don't Cry (electro-acoustic collage power electronics owns old-school ripoff power electronics)
Steven R. Smith - Cities (probably his best solo release ever)
TwinSisterMoon - The Hollow Mountain
Infinite Body - CMBCMEINAPTD
Bonnie "Prince" Billy - Beware (yeah I'm a dork, but he's the voice of the generation. by far his most forward-thinking and hopeful song work)
Lawrence English - A Colour For Autumn
Zola Jesus - The Spoils
Darwinsbitch - Ore
Vodka Soap - Interpretation "The Initiation"
irr. app. (ext.) - Kreiselwelle (still goin' in style)
Stephan Mathieu & Taylor Deupree - Transcriptions
sunn O))) - Monoliths & Dimensions (of course, blablah)
Gareth Davis & Steven R. Smith - Westering
James Blackshaw - The Glass Bead Game (the new Popol Vuh)
Soriah & Ashkelon Sain - Atlan (starting to feel guilty about the severe modern (not post-ironic) new age vibes, but I don't care his voice is godly)
Philip Jeck - Spool
Richard Skelton - Landings
Clouwbeck - Wolfrahm (kind of honorable mentions, because he hasn't really improved or changed his sound. it still rules though)
Hildur Guðnadóttir - Without Sinking
Daniel Higgs - Devotional Songs Of Daniel Higgs

Discovery Zone:
Eliane Radigue
Sam Meringue
Natural Snow Buildings/TwinSisterMoon/Isengrind
Barn Owl
Wolves In The Throne Room
The Miasmah Label
Lawrence English - Kiro No Oto
Svarte Greiner
Steven R. Smith

Happy 2010!!!